By Olivia Tauber
Last fall, the Pleasantville Cottage School club, or PCS, was started here at Byram Hills High School. This thoughtful, genuine, and enjoyable club is dedicated to spending time with underprivileged youth at the Pleasantville Cottage School, bringing joy to both the club’s members and the children they mentor.
The Pleasantville Cottage School is a facility in Westchester that is home to hundreds of kids who have had tragic, depressing backgrounds and need a place to live. For example, a child may have lost their parents, homes, or may have never had a place to call “home” to begin with. Furthermore, these kids may have been abused or abandoned. Unfortunately, the list of horrific back stories goes on and on.
However, despite their difficult childhood, the PCS club enables Byram students to make these kids’ days a little bit brighter by visiting the Pleasantville Cottage School. During visits, Byram students interact with these adolescents, play games with them, and get their minds off of whatever they are going through.
Personally, when I went to the Cottage School for the first time last year, I was unsure what to expect. I was nervous that the kids I was assigned to wouldn’t open up to me. However, that was certainly not the case, and I could not have been more wrong. Most of the children and teens were kind, enthusiastic, and had huge hearts. They wanted to get involved and I could tell that my presence was overwhelmingly appreciated. For example, when the kids and I began arts and crafts, they all started smiling and jumping up and down, showing how excited they were to participate in something as simple as coloring. Additionally, all of the female Byram students did Zumba with the girls while the boys went outside to play basketball. Each girl danced her heart out alongside each of the Byram students, smiling and laughing throughout the entire day.
Although my interaction with these kids was brief, the impact that we, as Byram Hills students, had was tremendous and extremely moving. From the endless giggles to the warm hugs, I could tell that our time spent with them truly made their day. Yet, the experience did not only positively affect the kids at the Pleasantville Cottage School but also affected the members of the club. Junior Devon Wolfe, president of the club, found that through “working with kids that have experienced more trauma than anyone should ever have to experience makes you realize how grateful you have to be of the life that you live.” Sometimes it is difficult to gain this sort of perspective of the world we live in when confined to the Armonk bubble. However, through this club, I, along with the other members, were able to better understand how fortunate we truly are in comparison to those living just a few miles from us.
The club has yet to begin this year, as a “Byram Day” at PCS is being planned for this upcoming spring. If you are interested in joining the club, contact Devon Wolfe, Emily Cooper, or myself, Olivia Tauber, who would be delighted to add you to the Facebook group. The more people that join, the more opportunities there are to spread joy to the less fortunate.